Volumetrics Diet

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you are trying to lose weight and like the idea of feeling full and satisfied after you eat, you may want to check out the Volumetrics Diet. This post describes the Volumetrics Diets - what it is, the pros and cons, and whether or not it is effective for weight loss.

Volumetrics Diet

What is the diet?

The Volumetrics Diet is based on eating low-calorie, low-density, high-volume foods so you feel full after meals. The idea is to help you lose weight without feeling deprived during the process. The diet was created by Barbara Rolls, PhD, a nutrition professor and researcher at Penn State University. Rolls' approach is based on the notion that the volume of food we consume fills us up, regardless the amount of calories. Food is divided into four categories, ranging from low calorie-density (broth-based soups, vegetables) to high calorie-density (chips, cookies, candy). Rolls encourages us to think about food choices and choose lower calorie-dense foods when possible. Participants track daily calorie intake and exercise. This approach is different from diets that focus on recommended foods you may or may not like that leave you feeling deprived and frustrated, and cause you to give up. Instead, Rolls focuses on making smart food choices that fill you up with fewer calories.



  • Calculating the caloric density of a food using the mathematical formula may be cumbersome for some people.
  • Focusing on the caloric density alone might not be enough for certain medical conditions. People with diabetes who need to count carbs, people who have had weight loss surgery, and people with kidney disease will want to use a comprehensive nutrient tracker.
  • Minimal social support is offered with Volumetrics.
  • Exercise guidance is minimal with no specific guidelines provided.
  • The diet comes at a monetary cost.
  • Cost

    You have to purchase the book. The latest version is The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off, by Barbara Rolls and Mindy Hermann. William Morrow Cookbooks, Harper Collins Publishers, 2013. It is available on Amazon.com. A sampling of prices include $16.99 for paperback, $11.69 for paperback with Amazon Prime, $8.99 for the Kindle edition and $36.52 for hardcover. It includes a 12-week diet plan and over 100 recipes. Note: Look for Barbara Rolls as author. There are other books written with similar titles. Unless you use a phone app to track your steps, you will also need to purchase a pedometer or step counter device.

    Social Support

    This is a do-it-yourself program. You would need to develop your own support system. There is a Volumetrics Facebook page with some online chat available.


    This diet appears to be a common-sense, effective plan that focuses on fullness rather than deprivation, and guides people to focus on lower calorie, lower fat, higher fiber foods from all food groups. US News & World Report ranks diets annually, using input from a national panel of health experts. Diets are ranked according to ease of following, nutrition, safety, effectiveness, and protection against diabetes and heart disease. In 2017, the Volumetrics Diet tied for #2 in Best Weight-Loss Diets, tied for #4 in Best Diets for Healthy Eating, and tied for #8 in Best Diets Overall.

    Does it work?

    The Volumetrics Diet does have research to back it up. A 2007 study, co-authored by Rolls in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), concluded that reductions in energy (calorie) density were associated with weight loss and improved diet quality. Another 2007 study, co-authored by Rolls, concluded that reducing energy density is an effective approach to managing body weight while controlling hunger. A 2008 study in the AJCN showed decreasing energy density is a way to prevent weight gain and obesity in both a short and long term time period.

    Who would most benefit from this diet?

    This program would be a good fit for someone who often feels hungry and wants to feel satisfied after eating meals and snacks.

    Is it viable long term?

    Yes, Volumetrics Diet is safe, includes all food groups, and is effective long term.

    Do I like this diet?

    Yes. I would recommend this program for someone who often feels hungry and desires gradual, healthy weight loss.

    More Resources

    For more information on Volumetrics Diet:

    For basic information about Volumetrics Diet and other diets, check out WebMD's Weight Loss & Diet Plans A - Z and U.S. News & World Report's Best Weight Loss Diets.

    Weight Loss->Diets
    Dec 19, 2017

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